Bike Task Force prepares to submit findings

Bike Friendly Community Task Force finalizing recommendations for council on how to improve bike infrastructure in Smithers.

Smithers may be getting a lot more bike friendly soon, as the Bike Friendly Community Task Force finalizes recommendations to be brought forward to council on how to improve bike infrastructure in Smithers.

“I think the meetings have been going great,” Ellen Hansen said, a Bike Friendly Community Task Force committee member.

“The process was well guided by the town representatives and we’ve done group work and independently arrived at the same kind of issues, looking for solutions and making sure it’s boiled down to something that can be presented to council and be viable.”

The Town of Smithers appointed the committee earlier this year after council identified making Smithers more bike friendly as one of their top priorities .

The committee held three meetings and submits their recommendations to council next month.

“It’s been great so far,” councillor Phil Brienesse said.

“Our first meeting was really brain storming mostly on the issues that are out there.”

“So although that needed to be done it feels a lot better moving into this second meeting about possible solutions and it’s nice to see a lot of the solutions aren’t massive, expensive projects.”

So far the committee has identified problem areas across Smithers, areas that are poorly marked such as the cross walks on both ends of town.

But the primary focus of the committee is to find a way to connect the existing trails together. With three schools along Third Ave., the committee also looked at creating a cross-town corridor for bikes along Third Ave. to make it safer for students to get to school.

“One of the ways we’re solving these problem is looking at what existing trails we already have in place, and looking at creative ways we can connect them all together,” Brienesse said.

Most of the recommendations at this point are pretty simple.

Improvements in signage, indicator lines and symbols painted on roads and bike racks, to name a few ideas.

However, on the draft map of bike infrastructure recommended for Smithers, the committee also looked at the viability of creating new multi-use pathways to accommodate both bikes and scooters.

“Right now we pretty well have a list of what we think should be done,” Hansen said.

“We have an overview map and we want to specify the map and bring it down to what do we want, what’s long-term, what’s short-term, signage and road lines.”

Although some options aren’t viable at the moment, the committee put them all in a side bar to be looked at in the future.

As for Third Ave., it’s sure to play a key role in the improvement of Smithers’ bike infrastructure, creating a safe and efficient corridor for cyclist and especially kids. As Hansen put it, they are the future and the ones that will benefit the most once the task force has issued their findings.

“Third Ave. is the main connector for three schools from one end to the other so that’s a very important one,” Hansen said.

“The kids are the future and you get to the parents through the kids. If the parents know the kids can get to school safely they’ll go with them first, they’ll find out about all the bike routes and they might be more likely to go on the bike as well.”